Bob McNair joined the other owner of a Texas NFL team in questioning whether there is a conclusive link between football and degenerative brain disease.
“I think it’s an important issue,” Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said at the NFL owners meetings (via ESPN). “I’m more concerned about the misconceptions people can have about it than I am about what’s really taking place. We’re studying this issue closely, more than anyone else. We’ve put up money for research before anyone else did. Our medical scientists still don’t know what the cause of CTE [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] is. It appears that if you’ve had multiple concussions from whatever you’ve been doing, riding a bicycle, skateboarding, it’s not just football, that there’s a possibility it could lead to CTE.”
On Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed a similar belief to The Post’s Mark Maske, saying “it’s absurd” to think there’s enough data to link CTE to football. The topic is suddenly a hot one again because Jeff Miller, an NFL executive, told a Capitol Hill round table on March 15 that “certainly yes” there is a link between the sport and degenerative brain disease.
That stunning admission carried sobering implications for the future of the sport and caught NFL owners off guard, Maske reported, even though the NFL stood by Miller’s comment. That left it to owners to reinvigorate the subject at this week’s NFL meetings in Florida. Enter McNair.
“We don’t know does CTE exist among people who’ve never had any contact? We don’t know,” said McNair, who, according to ESPN, wasn’t specifically asked about Miller’s comment. “Because when you’re alive they can’t check for it. The only players, the brains that have been checked, were ones who clearly were having problems. So it wasn’t a scientific sample that they were dealing with. We’ve got thousands of players who are not suffering from dementia of any type. So we have a lot to learn yet.
“But we’re not downplaying it. We’ve changed the rules to try to protect the players. We’re looking at equipment changes to protect the players. I think we’ve convinced the players that if you have had a hard hit to the head and you feel like you’ve been concussed, don’t be ashamed to say I need to come out, whereas before that was their attitude so it was never reported to us. But now they recognize that’s not smart. If they have a concussion, report it, come out, let us check ’em out. If they’re okay, fine, go back in, but if they’ve definitely been concussed, then they don’t go back in.”
Commissioner Roger Goodell stressed that the NFL is changing as it awaits further scientific study.
“I think the most important thing for us is to support the medical [experts] and scientists who determine what those connections are,” Goodell said in a news conference. “We think the statements that have been made through Jeff Miller and others have been consistent with our position over the years. We’ve actually funded those studies. So we not only are aware of those. We recognize them.
“But we support those studies. A lot of the research is still in its infancy. But we’re trying to find ways to accelerate that. And that’s part of what we’re doing with investing in additional research. But we’re also not waiting for the research. We’re going in and making the changes to our game.”